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How to Find a Real Estate Agent

9 Minute ReadTopic: home buying

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, finding a real estate agent you can trust just might be the most important decision you make. After all, a home is likely your biggest financial asset, and you want to make the most of your investment.

It may be tempting to hire the first real estate agent you talk to just to save time and effort. But we recommend interviewing at least three agents before deciding which one you want to partner with.

With so many real estate agents to choose from, it can be tough to know what to look for. Here’s how to find the real estate agent who’s right for you, whether you're buying or selling a home.

Selling a House? 10 Interview Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent

You’ll be paying your agent thousands of dollars to get your home sold. You don’t give that kind of dough to just anyone!

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These 10 questions can help you find a real estate agent who’s worth your hard-earned money.

  1. How long have you been a real estate agent?
  2. How many homes do you sell each year?
  3. What’s the average difference between the asking price and final sales price of homes you sell?
  4. On average, how long does it take you to sell a listing?
  5. How well do you know my area?
  6. How will you market my home?
  7. Will you tell me what I need to hear?
  8. How do you deal with issues that come up?
  9. What happens if I’m not happy with the job you are doing to get my home sold?
  10. Who can I contact for a reference?

1. How long have you been a real estate agent?

Selling homes is a tough job that involves difficult negotiations and market fluctuations. An agent who’s been successful for at least four years clearly enjoys their work. With 10 or more years under their belt, you can trust that this agent has sold in the best and worst of times.

2. How many homes do you sell each year?

To sell your home for top dollar in the least amount of time, partner with a high-octane agent who closes at least 35 transactions per year. It takes hard work and a good reputation to get that kind of business. An agent who sells a high volume of homes can afford to provide full-impact marketing for your home and hire extra support to ensure your home sale doesn’t miss a beat.

3. What’s the average difference between the asking price and final sales price of homes you sell?

This number—also know as the list-to-sale ratio—can help you predict how accurately your agent prices the homes they list. The closer an agent’s list-to-sale ratio is to 100%, the more accurate their pricing. A ratio over 100% means an agent consistently gets above asking price on homes they sell.

4. On average, how long does it take you to sell a listing?

This isn’t a guarantee that your home will sell within the agent’s average time frame. But it can help you gauge how hard your agent works to get homes sold. Compare your agent’s average to the standard in your area to see how their performance stacks up.

5. How well do you know my area?

Obviously, an agent who’s sold a lot of homes in your area has proven expertise. But don’t limit your view to neighborhood sales. Even a pro with personal ties to your community shows they have the inside track on what makes your particular corner of the world special.

6. How will you market my home?

It takes a creative mix of traditional and digital tools to reach today’s buyers and their agents. An agent should outline their plan and tell you how each step will attract buyers. If an important component is missing, ask about that too. A true pro will explain why certain strategies may not work in your market.

7. Will you tell me what I need to hear?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting your agent to tell you what you want to hear. But they don’t get paid to puff up your ego. Look for a pro who can be blunt in the nicest way possible, whether it’s advising you on home improvements or sharing buyer feedback after a showing.

8. How do you deal with issues that come up?

Selling a home isn’t always sunshine and roses. There will be bumps along the way. When that happens, you need a pro who isn’t afraid to step up to the plate to ensure your home closes. A good agent uses proactive communication like a superpower to save the day.

9. What happens if I'm not happy with the job you are doing to get my home sold?

Be wary of agents that lock you into a lengthy listing contract that they can get out of but you can't. Ask your agent if you can cancel your contract without penalty if you're not satisfied with the service provided. Some agents charge a termination fee to cover out-of-pocket marketing expenses.

10. Who can I contact for a reference?

Want to know the good, the bad and the ugly? Nothing beats talking to a former client about their personal experience with an agent!

Related: For more tips on selling your home, download our free Home Seller Guides.


Buying a Home? 8 Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to buying a home, nothing can wreck a deal like working with a lousy agent. These eight questions can help you find a real estate agent who has your best interest at heart.
  1. How long have you been a real estate agent?
  2. How many homes do you close each year?
  3. How will you help me land a home in a competitive market?
  4. What is the average difference between the asking price and final sales price of homes you’ve helped buyers purchase?
  5. Will you tell me what I need to hear?
  6. What happens if I’m not happy with the job you’re doing?
  7. How and how often will you communicate with me?
  8. Who can I contact for a reference?

1. How long have you been a real estate agent?

Real estate is a tough business. It takes perseverance to survive the lean times—and discipline to thrive when the market’s strong. You can trust an agent with four or more years of experience to know what it takes to super-serve you, no matter the market conditions.

2. How many homes do you close each year?

Finding an agent who’s an expert negotiator ensures you aren’t overpaying on your new home. We recommend working with a high-octane agent who closes at least 35 transactions per year. It takes hard work and a good reputation to get that kind of business. A high-volume agent has access to more available homes and can hire extra support to ensure your home purchase doesn’t miss a beat.

3. How will you help me land a home in a competitive market?

Live in a hot market? An agent with a creative mind and lots of connections can help you get the inside scoop on homes for sale in your area—sometimes before they even hit the market! And If you end up in a bidding war, a good buyer’s agent can help you balance getting a good deal with making a fair offer so you don’t miss out on a home you love.

4. What’s the average difference between the asking price and final sales price of homes you’ve helped buyers purchase?

This number—also know as the list-to-sale ratio—can help you predict how well your agent will negotiate on your behalf. A ratio below 100% means a buyer’s agent consistently gets below asking price on home purchases.

5. Will you tell me what I need to hear?

Look for a pro who can be blunt in the nicest way possible. The last thing you want is an agent who will give you false expectations about what you can afford or sugarcoat a serious home inspection issue.

6. What happens if I’m not happy with the job you’re doing?

Be wary of agents who lock you into a lengthy contract that they can get out of but you can’t. Ask your agent if you can cancel your contract without penalty if you’re not satisfied with their service. Some agents charge a termination fee to cover out-of-pocket marketing expenses.

7. How and how often will you communicate with me?

Communication is key in any real estate transaction. If your agent isn’t responding to you in a reasonable amount of time and it’s costing you home-buying opportunities, you and your agent are missing out!

8. Who can I contact for a reference?

Want to know what an agent’s really like to work with? Ask former clients about their personal experience. There’s no better way to get insight into an agent’s personality and work ethic!

How to Find a Rock Star Real Estate Agent Near You

You don’t have to look far to find a real estate agent to help you buy or sell a home. But there’s nothing like a personal recommendation to make you feel confident about your choice.

If you want a high-performance real estate agent who’s earned Dave’s seal of trust for excellent service and great advice, give our real estate ELPs a try. Our ELPs put customers before commission and close a minimum of 35 home transactions a year. According to the National Association of Realtors, that’s three times more than the typical agent!

Let us help you narrow down the search for your real estate agent. Find a real estate agent Dave recommends in your area today!

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